Protesters at the Women’s March raise their signs high. Photo courtesy of Lydia Eifert.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – these are the core values of the American citizen, known and believed by many who walk upon its soil. Many debate what life means, where it begins, and what we, the people, must do to protect and sustain it. One of these such policies, a life-and-death matter, is abortion. Some may consider it a right, others as murder, while others are indifferent. Regardless, abortion remains as one of the most contreversial social issues of our time, especially among college students. However, recent bills and advocacy groups have brought this hot button topic to the forefront.
In September, Texas passed an unprecedented law regarding abortion access, potentially paving the way for other states to propose amendments in a similar vein. Not only will abortion services be prohibited after six weeks – a policy known as “The Heartbeat Bill” – but civilians, regardless of their involvement, will be able to file a lawsuit if they report a medical professional or clinic for providing such services. The plaintiff can even go as far as suing Uber or Lyft drivers for providing patients a ride to an abortion clinic. In the wake of these laws and visits from religious anti-abortion groups, such as Tradition, Family, Property: Student Action, intense debates have been sparked throughout the Millersville campus and community. Following these events, classes and friend groups erupted in discourse, struggling to educate and persuade each other to support their respective platforms, with the central question being – are you pro-life or pro-choice?
More than a dozen students agreed to fill out an anonymous survey regarding their views on abortion access in the United States, as well as their reaction to the recent propositions in states such as Texas and Florida. Regardless of their views on reproductive rights, women are clearly the most passionate about the issue, with nearly 70% of respondents identifying as female students. To a large number of Millersville students, abortion is considered a fundamental right for women and those who were assigned female at birth. More than 85% of respondents identify as pro-choice, with nearly all of them sharing the consensus that abortion access is vital to the welfare of all people. This belief is also reflected in the very passionate reactions to recent visits from pro-life groups to Millersville’s campus, which were met with much vocal opposition and distain from students and residents alike.
However, heated arguments and yelling over each other will get us nowhere, which is why it is always helpful to open one’s mind to both sides of an argument, and to focus on educating, rather than attacking one another when debating political and social issues. When debates become intense, they can be reliant on emotion or bias, which can also lead to the spread of misinformation. To avoid this, it is highly recommended that readers consider the following misconceptions or generalizations when researching or analyzing the topic of abortion:
- “Most pro-lifers are white Christian men, while pro-choicers are young, college aged women.”
While one’s religious beliefs may heavily influence their views on abortion, this does not mean that all religious people, including religious men, are guaranteed to identify as pro-life, or to be aginst abortion. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 43% of nearly 500 women surveyed identified themselves as pro-life, with nearly just as many being religious as those who are not. While there is a greater disaparity in regards to women’s views on abortion, men’s beliefs on the matter are more equally divided, with 50% and 45% of them being pro-life and pro-choice, respectively. Reflecting the results of our student poll, women are in general more likely to have strong views on reproductive rights, whether they are for or against it.
- “Defunding organizations such as Planned Parenthood will decrease the number of abortions and protect unborn children.”
Abortion clinics in the United States have actually not been federally funded for decades. The Hyde Amendment, which took effect in 1980, prohibits taxpayer dollars from being allocated towards abortion services. According to Planned Parenthood’s official website, an estimated 3% of patients had an abortion at one of their clinics, partially due to the fact that many locations, including the nearest clinic in Lancaster, do not even offer abortions. If organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, were to no longer receive federal funding, abortion services would mostly be unaffected, as they are primarily funded through private sources. However, other more common services, such as contraceptives and STI and cancer treatments, would be limited to patients as well.
Regardless of one’s views on abortion and reproductive rights, it is of utmost importance to facilitate discussions which incorporate the views and needs of all people. Constructive and civil discussions on human rights and social issues are highly encouraged, and will almost certainly succeed in helping the community understand such topics. As Millersville students continue to voice their differing opinions on abortion, we all come to the same conclusion – the ultimate goal is to support the rights and welfare of the people, we simply disagree on how we need to get there.